Oil rides longest weekly rally since may with eyes on $100 crude

Oil’s on course for the longest run of weekly gains in four months as energy giants to Wall Street banks predict the return of $100 crude on fears of an impending supply crunch.

Futures in New York were set for a 2.1% advance this week, poised for a third weekly increase. Oil and gas major Total SA CEO Patrick Pouyanne said a supply loss in Iran and declining output in Venezuela may help push prices back to levels last seen in 2014.

Meanwhile, the US government dismissed speculation it will release emergency crude reserves to temper prices.

Oil has risen to near four year highs after the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries showed little sign of immediately boosting production despite President Donald Trump’s demand to lower prices. Concerns over tightening supplies are growing as more buyers of Iranian crude - most recently those in India - shun purchases from the Islamic Republic before US sanctions take full effect in early November.

“Everyone’s worried about the tightness in supply at the moment and that’s continuing to push up prices,” Will Yun, Seoul-based commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures, said by phone. “But volatility is coming as we’re still waiting for further response from the US.”

Rising higher

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery traded at $72.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 14 cents, at 2:35 pm in Singapore. The contract has climbed $1.48 this week. Total volume traded was about 49% below the 100-day average.

Brent for November was little changed at $81.78 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract rose 3.8% this week. The global benchmark traded at a $9.52 premium to WTI.

Total’s Pouyanne said that tightening supplies could push prices back into triple digits, but that demand may drop. Trading houses such as Trafigura Group and Mercuria Energy Group have also called for oil over $100 a barrel, while banks including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co lifted their price forecasts.

Meanwhile, BP cautioned that a rally in prices may not be sustainable in the longer run due to the negative impact on demand from the ongoing US-China trade war.

Investors are now watching to see what President Trump will do next after US Energy Secretary Rick Perry ruled out the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, saying the move would have “a fairly minor and short-term impact.”

Earlier this week, Trump accused OPEC of “ripping off the rest of the world” after the group stopped short of promising specific extra volumes of crude.

Other oil-market news:

• The Cboe/Nymex Oil Volatility Index increased 2.1% on Thursday, on course for a 2.5% gain this week.

• The sanctions on Iran’s crude is likely to spur volatility for the rest of the year, according to BP chief executive officer Bob Dudley.

• A two-day surge turned a sludgy, sulfurous and low-quality crude into the world’s costliest oil benchmark this week, confounding traders and throwing the market into turmoil. As oil refiners brace for the fallout from stricter ship-fuel emission standards due in 2020, at least one Asian processor is considering how it can take advantage.

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